Samples of broadcloth sold by the East India Company in Persia [IOR/G/29/17]. © The British Library

Samples of broadcloth sold by the East India Company in Persia [IOR/G/29/17]. © The British Library

Peter Good

Peter started his PhD in 2013 & works between the University of Essex and the British Library.

Before beginning his AHRC CDP, Peter Good juggled being a choirmaster with doing an unfunded PhD at the University of Exeter. He took up his AHRC-funded PhD, ‘Factories of Trade and Empire’, in 2013, and works between the University of Essex and the British Library.

How do CDPs differ from other kinds of PhD?
Having started a PhD project of my own, I can say that there are significant differences between doing it this way and as a CDP. In terms of the project itself, the CDP scheme provides a framework for your research that you would otherwise have to create yourself. While the freedom to set your own research parameters is desirable, it is also time consuming; having a defined project can provide some much needed stability, especially in the early stages. I was also attracted by the scope of the project itself, as well as the funding and the opportunity to work at the British Library. Gaining experience of archival work has been invaluable to me.

Are there other aspects of the CDP experience that you appreciate?
As part of the CDP Scheme, you are also part of a community outside of your university or your discipline. The AHRC organise a wide variety of events and training which give you the opportunity to meet and socialise with other researchers who are going through a similar process to you. You are also lucky to be exposed to working in an institution away from a university environment, getting an insight into how collections, whether at museums or libraries, are stored, exhibited and conserved.

What is the main focus of your research?
My project explores the activities of the East India Company in the Persian Gulf region between 1600 and 1820. It is based on the records of the Company’s factories (trading posts), which are held at the British Library (IOR/G/29). My personal interests lie in the Company as a political and military buy accutane in uk force, rather than as a commercial enterprise.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve found out so far?

To be honest, I find the whole thing exciting. The thing I have most enjoyed by far is spending months on end reading about the personal lives and experiences of the Company’s employees in the Gulf. There has been tragedy, like the plague which nearly wiped out the entire European community in Bandar Abbas, along with lists of wedding gifts given to the Company’s Indian servants. Political intrigue, diplomatic skulduggery, not to mention instructions on how to ship elephants. Most unexpectedly, perhaps, was a gay love story played out between an English trader and a Persian nobleman, certainly not the sort of thing I ever thought to encounter, unfortunately it has a very sad ending.

Have you been involved in any other projects beyond your PhD?
I have been lucky to have the opportunity of gaining a wide variety of experience outside of my research. Over the course of my tenure at the British Library I have been a regular contributor to the ‘Untold Lives’ blog , which has a very large following on Twitter. I have also helped to organise the ‘Global Voices in the Archive’ Conference and workshop . Through my supervisor at the BL, I was invited to attend and give a paper at the ‘Global Company’ Conference held in Heidelberg through which I was also asked to contribute to a published volume.

What are your plans for the future?

I am hoping to pursue a career in academia: as such, I have a lot of work ahead of me in terms of publications and job applications. Being from a small discipline (Persian Studies) I feel that it’s important to try and broaden awareness of it within academic and public-facing spheres. To this end, I am involved in organising two more conferences and workshops in 2017.

Detail from East India Company Factory Records [IOR/G/29/17]. © The British Library

Detail from East India Company Factory Records [IOR/G/29/17]. © The British Library

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